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Every denomination needs one of these...

United Church of Christ: Television Bad

Monday, June 30, 2008

What's wrong with watching television? And what on earth does this have to do with the United Church of Christ? Well apparently the UCC Office of Communication is part of the "Smart Television Alliance"... I guess because they want to give clueless parents guidance on what is acceptable television. From today's press release:
Cheryl Leanza, Director of the Office of Communications Inc. of the United Church of Christ, added, "The first step is realizing this is a time when many kids begin to view more television, and making a commitment to not allow summer TV viewing to escalate. If your kids do watch television, finding quality programming using advanced technology can be a helpful tool. We can no longer allow summer to be a time when learning stops."
Kids watch more television in the summer... shocker there. I'm thinking that Leanza has too much time on her hands this summer and now she would like to decide for you what is good (and conversely what is bad) on television.

If you are one of the dumb parents out there that don't have a clue on what quality programming is out there, the good people at the "Smart Television Alliance" have a list of shows based on age groups (with a convenient link to their sponsor TIVO in case you want to record the shows). I was disappointed that reruns of 90210 on the Soap Network weren't included on the list, but I was thankful that I could sit my daughter in front the tube to watch "Everybody Hates Chris," "Hannah Montana" and "Deadliest Catch" (which is an AWESOME show).

All said, the idea that my denomination wants to have a say on what is acceptable television is both creepy and idiotic... not to mention a little arrogant. I'd like to meet one person who likes the idea of their church picking out which shows are good to watch. What's next.... are they going to tell us which brand of coffee is acceptable to drink?
posted by UCCtruths, Monday, June 30, 2008 | link | 2 comments |

I Miss Barack Obama

By Pastor Ted Weis, Congregational Church, Little River, KS

You've probably noticed. This site has been pretty quiet lately.

That's what happens when a presidential candidate divorces your denomination.

Since then, the only significant item to be discussed here is torture. You want to know what torture is? Not having anything to write about! So permit one more posting about the United Church of Christ's favorite ex-member, Barack Obama.

For a moment, take the long view of Obama's relationship with the UCC. In June, 2007, Obama was the fawned upon rock star speaker at General Synod. Less than a year later, he makes a very public exit from the denomination.

We all know why it happened, but who would have ever thought?

Naturally-- in order to not blame the real culprit in this whole fiasco-- UCC President John Thomas, in his statement about Obama leaving Trinity Church, found an appropriate whipping boy (oops, edit that to scapegoat) in the right-wing media:
It’s also important to name the painful reality that many candidates and public officials now find it nearly impossible to be an active member of a particular religious community, given our divisive political culture.
Never mind what was actually said from the pulpit of that "particular religious community."

Of course, this is all old news. Obama has divorced Trinity and in turn the UCC. He's moved on. With wife Michelle, Obama is busy scrubbing his image in preparation for the fall campaign. But is divorce really that easy? Is putting away your past that simple? How much of it will haunt him in the campaign?

Obama may have left the United Church of Christ, but I doubt the United Church of Christ will leave him. Politically speaking, Obama is very much in line with UCC politics. Internally, Obama's departure will have no effect on how UCC members vote in November. Heck, I bet even Rev. Jeremiah Wright votes for Obama come election time.

But what will the voting public decide? Will they endorse a UCC version of President?

That's what I'll be asking as I (tear) sit idly and watch my favorite ex-UCC member vie for the White House.
posted by Living the Biblios, Monday, June 30, 2008 | link | 0 comments |

Pastor Dan's Tantrum

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I continue to respect Pastor Dan although he seems suddenly unable to comprehend basic moral logic. He's not the only one though and I've gotten plenty of flack for the post on the message board.

For starters, I'm not advocating for torture at all - it is completely immoral and it is wrong. All I'm saying is that the timing of John Thomas' statement on torture is suspicious since this isn't an issue of public dispute and there are no new allegations of torture. Further, as a country we crossed a moral threshold long ago when we decided that a war was necessary. Excuse me if I see a big moral difference between a belly slap and killing someone. Basic logic to me, but not to Pastor Dan.

As far as Abu Ghraib goes, Pastor Dan is completely right and the perpetrators were rightfully prosecuted. It also has nothing to do with Thomas speaking out now.

His example of force feeding a Guantanamo detainee who is on a hunger strike as an example of torture is dubious... would it be more moral to just let him die?

As far as his example of Jose Padilla goes, this is testimony from his defense attorneys who were trying to make the case that Padilla was not competent to stand trial as a result of the alleged torture he received. Pastor Dan makes the idiotic mistake of holding up Padilla's defense attorneys as the final word and he conveniently failed to mention that the judge dismissed the defense experts testimony and actually found Padilla to be competent to stand trial.

Pastor Dan goes on...
Any ninny with half a heart who had thought about these practices for longer than thirty seconds would come to the conclusion that they are disgusting, disgraceful, and completely inconsistent with Christian and American values.
I agree... and his point is....?

Well, he doesn't really have one because he didn't really get the point of my original post. He would rather hyperventilate than read what I actually posted.
posted by UCCtruths, Sunday, June 29, 2008 | link | 1 comments |

Torture as a wedge issue

Friday, June 27, 2008

My brief post earlier this week on torture sparked a bit of debate on the UCCtruths message board... which is a good thing... I was getting bored with all the Obama and Wright talk and was literally falling asleep reading this blog.

Any debate or statements on torture is pretty mindless at this point and it isn't a moral issue, it is a political one.

I think it's a disingenuous statement since the harshest treatment now is "longtime standing". If there are new allegations, it might be worth exploring but to make it an issue now makes it clear to me that this a political fight, not a moral one.

But since we are on the topic and there is little substance on what United Church of Christ John Thomas is actually whining about... here is the list of the types of torture we have done:
1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.

2. The Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear.

3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.

4. Longtime Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.

5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.

6. Waterboarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt.
The moral argument against torture is also disingenuous at this point because we are in a war where we are aiming guns at people and blowing their heads clean off their shoulders. If we as a country accept that this is a morally wrong but necessary thing to do, than I'm quite a bit less sensitive to concerns about a belly slap and I haven't honestly explored it's moral implications.

Having lost the debate on the war seven years ago, Thomas is left with complaining about torture which, in the context of a war where we kill people, is simply a meaningless wedge issue.
posted by UCCtruths, Friday, June 27, 2008 | link | 6 comments |

John Thomas: Torture bad

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Just in case there was any confusion about torture...
Rev. John H. Thomas, the general minister and president of the United Church of Christ, said torture cannot be justified on a moral grounds. He said no threat is great enough to justify "our most central values of what it means to be a Christian."
Now if we could just get him to agree that his tenure as United Church of Christ President has been torture, we might make some real progress. :)

posted by UCCtruths, Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | link | 3 comments |

Trinity clarifies Moss' role

Friday, June 13, 2008

Just to update the Time Magazine story, Trinity UCC officially has a different take on Moss' role with the church which you can read in this bloated PDF (6MB for 2 pages!).

I don't particularly care about Trinity UCC's internal politics but I think it's a bit of a cop out to claim that the denomination has "certain requirements" before a pastor can be installed. I'm no expert and I could be wrong, but I thought a local church could call any pastor it wanted to regardless of what the denomination says. As I understand it, Moss was not selected through the official "search and call" process in the first place so the sudden adherence now seems to be rather covenient.

But again, like most other UCCers, I could care less what Trinity does internally, it's the bad publicity they've been inflicting on themselves (and ultimately on the rest of us) that gets on my nerves. Hopefully I won't have to mention them in this space for awhile.
posted by UCCtruths, Friday, June 13, 2008 | link | 0 comments |

He's Back: Wright Makes A U Turn

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

It now appears that Jeremiah Wright isn't leaving Trinity United Church of Christ after all... From Time Magazine:
Wright was officially to have stepped down last Sunday, June 1. And from the pulpit at 7:30 a.m. that day, Wright's hand-picked successor, the Rev. Otis Moss III, preached what should have been his first sermon as senior pastor of Trinity, one of the Chicago's largest congregations and among the most influential religious institutions in America. Instead, on church bulletins on June 1, Moss was identified simply as "pastor" rather than "senior pastor," even as Wright assumed the title "pastor emeritus." Indeed, Trinity members familiar with the developments say that on May 27, Moss was summoned to the church's massive brown sanctuary for a meeting that included Wright, several church board members and other senior leaders. According to those sources, Moss, 37, expected the meeting to finalize transition plans. Instead, Wright suggested the board merely declare Moss "senior pastor-elect" because the younger cleric needed "supervision" — effectively ensuring Wright remains Trinity's preacher-in-chief. Wright's essential argument hinges on a technicality: Moss is an ordained Baptist minister who has yet to be fully ordained in the United Church of Christ, the predominantly white protestant denomination of which the roughly 8,500-member Trinity is the largest congregation.
The national office is quick to clarify our polity:
Officials at the United Church of Christ's national headquarters in Cleveland are aware of the leadership tension at Trinity. However, they say, individual U.C.C. churches are autonomous and the national body can do little to intervene. Barbara Powell, a U.C.C. headquarters spokeswoman, noted that "Trinity didn't follow the normal U.C.C. guidelines for the [pastoral] search" (Wright handpicked Moss, apparently without a formal search committee), but said it was hard to imagine that Moss wouldn't successfully complete the ordination process.
Whether Trinity followed the search and call process or not really isn't relevant - local UCC churches are free to select any pastor they like regardless if they are ordained in the United Church of Christ. I also wonder if it's any of their business to be dishing to the media the circumstances of Moss' selection - that is a matter for Trinity to communicate.

As far as the church goes, Trinity is turning into soap opera thanks primarily to Wright. It's just sad that they have let him drag the church through this mess.
posted by UCCtruths, Wednesday, June 04, 2008 | link | 3 comments |